Sunday, April 7, 2013

Loving and Living With an Angry Person Who Has Cancer

This post has been playing in my head for a while now.  It has just recently  taken on a new sense of urgency in addressing it, plus I have had the opportunity to speak with an expert on the subject. Thank you, Evan Katz, “The Anger Guy.”

While the title of the post suggests this is about an angry “person,” the truth is, that person is probably male.  I’m hearing from a lot of women who love, and live with, men who have melanoma (though I’m sure this applies to all cancers and other diseases as well), usually are stage 4, and their disposition has changed.  They are angry.  They are mean.  And they are taking out their emotions on their women and children.  They aren’t physically abusive, but are emotionally and verbally cruel.  If there are women who have become angry while dealing with cancer, I’m not hearing from their men…but the advice below may hold true for dealing with them.

Evan Katz, The Anger Guy, is a stage 3b melanoma survivor like me.  Our paths have crossed many times in melaland and I had the opportunity to speak with him yesterday as I write.  Having been an “angry man”, before melanoma, and this being his field, he was the prime person for me to talk to about this.  Women contact me and I needed to hear from him how they should handle this.  Evan has a Facebook page for this, as well as a website,  He has also written a book, Inside the Mind of an Angry Man: Help for Angry Men and Those that Love Them, that’s more like a toolkit.  The rest of this post is my utilization of what Evan shared.

Men, I’d rather talk with you first and give you the chance to see yourself, take control, help yourself and your family.  Also, you’ll get a taste for what I’m going to tell the women!

Men, you like to be in control and cancer has rendered you “out of control” and you find yourself in a scary place.  You’ve lost your identity.  You are used to having power over your destiny and calling the shots in your life.  You’re used to taking care of your family…not having your family take care of you.  Your life is out of balance and you know real fear now.  Tailspins aren’t fun.  So, to regain a sense of power and control, to get authority, your inward fears spill out as anger. And it’s drowning the woman in your life and your children.  If your partner is male, he may be able to handle you.  If not, keep reading.  Again, I’m hearing from women.

I know you don’t want to hurt them!  They know you aren’t intentionally inflicting pain!  Many are chalking all this up to the cancer and not to you, but that doesn’t lessen the hurt.  You know if you’ve seen tears in their eyes and down their faces.  You know if they shout back at you.  You know if they cower in your presence.  What you, and they, don’t know is how to change this pattern. 

So.  Here’s what I’m going to tell the woman in your life, but I’m telling you first so you can take the initiative and change.  I think that’s fair.

Evan left this comment under the post after it was published. So, today, April 8, 2013, I'm copyong/pasting it just as he wrote it. Men, you need to read this:
"Evan Katz, M.C. The Anger GuyApril 7, 2013 at 8:33 PM
Wow...its great to hear my message so accurately communicated. I'm humbled and privileged tio help people with the issue that imprisoned me for much of my life. It took my being a catalyst to my fathers death to mk me want to change. Guys, you have to want it. Needing to change isn't enough. Ask yourself...Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy? Do I want compliance or respect? Anger gets compliance (it shuts us up). Do I really believe life revolves around me? It doesn't...whether we've got cancer or not. So the next time u justify that your life sucks because of cancer or whatever, and u take your anger out at their expense, ask yourself: Hows my way working for me? For the angry man, being right is about as happy as it gets. Bravo Rev! And thanks for letting me be a part of something good. Blessings.."

Take control of your anger.  Regain power over your feelings and how you express them.  Draw your own line in the sand and discipline yourself not to cross over it.  Your emotional free fall will end and harmony can begin to be restored in your home.  Your children will love spending time with you again.  And your wife or girlfriend can relax and continue caring for you without fear.  The fact is, you need their care and support.  Don’t drive them away.  Don’t reduce their care to a sense of duty…let it remain an act of love.  Take charge of yourself and your behavior for the ones you love and live with.  You took care of them before cancer; don’t let cancer prevent you from taking care of them now.  Take care of them by taking control back over your behavior.  Harness your anger.  Deal with your fears.  Talk to someone.  Take positive action.  It will be better if you recognize YOU need to do this for THEM and do it on your own than for me to tell your loved one…

…do the difficult task, lady, and help your man take control.  This is for the women who contact me now.  I’ve talked with the men.  This is for you.  You’ve read what I wrote about how your man has lost control and feels powerless.  You’ve heard, “we always hurt the ones we love.”  Well, that’s what’s going on.  He’d never dare talk to anybody else like he talks to you, because anybody else would slap him and tell him where to go.  Not you.  You’re safe.  You’ll stick around and take it.  And his “power equilibrium” is restored.  He has “authority”…and it’s over you.  I don’t have to tell anyone that this is not a good situation whether there are children or not.

What to do?  Evan said this will be difficult, but it’s what the situation calls for AND what will help your husband or boyfriend.  Draw a line in the sand, tell him what that line is, and tell him not to cross it.  Give him control over his behavior.  This gives him power.  And it’s power over himself.  He controls his destiny now, to a degree.  Will he be in the doghouse or in the Big House?  Will he have a happier home or create and sustain a dungeon?  This is his time to shine and provide what his family needs and you need him to step up to the plate and be a man…not an angry man, but a loving man.  A man who doesn’t scare his children and belittle his wife or girlfriend.  A man who can meet their emotional and psychological needs even if he can’t get out and meet their physical needs.  (Men, physical needs are more than putting a roof over their heads and food on the table.  They need love and hugs, too.  Don’t make them scared to give that to you and receive it from you…you need hugs and love too).

Friends, I hope this helps.  My undying gratitude to Evan Katz. 

Now, if any of this resonates with you…please practice what we preach.

And make Evan and I grateful!